Law Library News
May 9, 2005.
It’s really hard to believe that we’re already in the month of May. The days are getting longer, and T-shirts and shorts are becoming more visible. This means it’s not too early to start thinking about summer – trips, reading list, and… your summer job (not necessarily in that order). I know, you first have to get through final exams, but who knows if you’ll stick around after your last exam to read this column! So here it goes.
A panel of local practitioners met with law faculty last quarter to discuss how law schools can better prepare their students for real world practice of law. During the discussion, the panel mentioned that they would like to see more of certain qualities or skills in law students. The following is a paraphrase of what they said - keeping these tips in mind may make your summer job experience more successful.
You already know how important it is to be able to write well. After all, you are entering a profession where you’re paid not just for your ideas but how you express those ideas. So it’s not a bad idea to always try to improve your writing. If you want help on getting started, take a look at the Library’s guide at http://lib.law.washington.edu/ref/writing.htm.
A lot can fall under this category but one thing that the panel brought up in particular was email in the workplace. Some were appalled at email style used in a professional setting, and others thought law students lacked an understanding of legal ramifications of email in the workplace (for a spotlight on the latter topic, read the next few weeks’ Law Library News).
One of the panel members expressed that a negotiation class should be required in law school.
This is self-explanatory, so I don’t know what more to say other than show enthusiasm, ask questions, and let it show if you think the work is interesting and worthwhile. If not, don't grouse about it (at least not publicly).
The panel decried issue spotting. In contrast to a typical law school exam where the name of the game is issue spotting (heck, if you run out of time, you may still get partial points for jotting down the issues without analysis), the panel said they want to be told about the two most important issues, not all the issues that you see.
Ah, the importance of working in groups and brainstorming...
Moot court board experience was mentioned as being valuable but any experience organizing an event such as finding and reserving the venue, lining up speakers, and forming contingency plans is valuable.
Summer Job Tips Parts 2 and 3 are coming in the future issues of the Law Library News.
Did you see the two additional law student organizations now featured in the glass display cases as you walk into the Library? Our staff member Nikki Pike created these wonderful displays on the Student Health Law Organization and Phi Delta Phi. They’re right next to the existing display on International Law. Check them out!
--Beth Williams, Law Library Intern
I admit it. I’m not proud, but I can’t help myself. Every month I receive my Maine Bar Journal in the mail and I head straight to the back for the disciplinary notices. It’s like a siren song of guilty pleasure, taunting me to heed the cautionary message without cracking the slightest smile of disbelief at the conduct of my fellow bar members. That wasn’t me emailing my old boss a copy of the court order temporarily suspending an attorney who’d brought new meaning to the term “opposing counsel” in a particularly difficult case I tried last year. No, ma’am – not me.
But trying to hide my shame only makes it worse. As ironically unprofessional as it sounds, sometimes these decisions are just plain funny. More to the point, sometimes they’re just so awful; they can contain descriptions of attorney conduct that seems so outrageous that your first instinct is to laugh. But I think the laughter hides a secret. I could never do that (“ha, ha”), could I? What drives attorneys to make the kinds of mistakes that cost them their practice, their pride, their reputation? Ah, the drama of reading disciplinary opinions! It’s nothing like reading Kant’s second Critique, but there are more similarities than you may think. So read a few as I do and go ahead and laugh a little in private, but don’t forget that these people were once students, too, hoping and planning to become lawyers one day.
(Okay, so I misled you a little with my title. Disciplinary decisions aren’t technically ethics opinions, but it’s a little hard to get fired up about reading formal ethics opinions and certainly harder to turn a phrase with “disciplinary” in it.)
Where can you find these materials and additional guidance on all things ethical on the Web?